Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A Note From Tracy Hipps: Trust

Trust is what we spend years developing in ministry only to have people question our trust. Why? 1969 was the first year of integration in the state of South Carolina and I was bused 12 miles to Ebenezer Junior High School where I experienced hate and hurt because I was different. The fear the students from the different areas of town felt turned into racial riots in our school and at the high school. I was just a kid and I did not know what to do. My dad was in Vietnam with the Air Force and my mom was depressed because my brother had died the year before. I didn’t have anyone to trust or guide me during this hard time.

I have been called to minister in very ethnically diverse communities and I have worked to build relationships in these communities for many years. And it takes years to build trust and just moments to destroy the trust that is needed to produce the fruit in which we have all been called to in making disciples. The richness of these relationships leads me to never go back in isolation of sameness but to continue on in the depth of oneness I have experienced. I deal with my foundational years of division and racism through the freedom I have found in God’s word that man is made in the image and likeness of God. This truth sets us free but we have to walk daily in this freedom that calls us to cross every line and barrier that divides to be together as one.

Now, 50 years later, after working many years to reconcile some of those early relationships and after building a ministry focused on Biblical reconciliation, there is still the question of trust. Can I be trusted? Trust has to be built and that takes time and motivation from the inside out. Three years ago I went to my 40th High School reunion to discover that my peers had their own stories of those years that mirrored mine. It has been amazing to build new relationships from years where there was no trust to a relationship of trust around the Gospel. Reconciliation is the process where we trust the Christ in those that have hurt us and build a new relationship with one another.

Tracy with Thomas Beavers, Joel Brooks, Alton Hardy, and Matt Mason
Today, I am still working to build relationships with friends and peers where trust is not easy but is foundational to our relationship. I want to hear your story and I want to share my story and build trust around God’s word and work. At CSM, I have spent 9 years building trust in relational partnerships believing this is the only way to change a city. John 13:35 says, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” My desire comes from God’s desire for all of us to be His disciples. The song of old sang, “Trust and Obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but the trust and obey.” If we obey the word of God we can build trust because of the Gospel.

New Video! Finding Place

Volunteers from United Ability box water for distribution.
Each year more than 5,000 volunteers come to us with a desire to serve and we have the privilege of hearing their heart and helping them find place either here at CSM or in the community. Each group and person is unique in their talents and abilities and we work hard at matching them to an appropriate project. We love it when this happens! A few years ago we started receiving "damaged" water in large baskets from Dollar General. This water comes from torn packages and is no longer usable by them but fills a great need we have for bottled water! Now we had lots of baskets of water but no way to distribute the water to the community. The Lord stepped in and brought several groups from Vestavia High School, United Ability, and Unless U to fill this need. It's a great project, serves a greater purpose, and gives us the opportunity to build relationships with these groups week after week. We are so thankful for our partnership with Dollar General and with these schools!

Watch this video to see United Ability boxing water and having a great time!

Last year, 101 Mobility made a generous donation to provide a wheelchair lift to offer better accessibility to our volunteers. Before that, we didn't have a great way to bring people into our building which limited who could serve with us. Now, anyone can join us no matter their ability! Read more about the donation 101 Mobility made and how it changed our CSM campus.

Volunteers from VHHS work in the cooler.

Volunteers from Unless U box sort water and other food items.

A Heart For Service

Tracy Hipps leads the volunteers with a message about CSM and prayer before the day starts.
When a church tells you that they have over 200 people with a heart for service available to serve with your ministry it can either incite panic or excitement. But God knows what needs to be accomplished and He provides just the right projects and people to get it done. This year at Shade’s Serve Day 2019, volunteers and members of Shades Mountain Baptist Church worked in, around, and outside of the Christian Service Mission Office. Volunteers began pouring into CSM around 8:00 that morning, ready and eager for the projects at hand! Nearly every inch of the CSM property was filled with volunteers form Shades and leaders from CSM working on over fifteen different projects. These amazing volunteers were able to help us tear down walls and ceilings in the warehouse for our future commercial kitchen, offer the warehouse and office fresh coats of paint, begin building a new deck out back, prepare the gardens for spring planting, sort food for distribution, sort and wrap diapers with Bundles of Hope, and lay flooring to improve office space. This massive group of people included families with children (who pitched in to create hand-crafted Valentine’s Day cards), missionaries in town for the Shades Mountain Global Iniative Conference from all corners of the planet, and lots of people who love to make a difference.

Volunteers worked hard in the cooler sorting food for future distribution.

By noon, everyone was enjoying much deserved ice cream sandwiches and popsicles after a long morning of hard work. We cannot thank Shades Mountain Baptist enough for the continued partnership on Shades Day and throughout the year! We are blessed by the relationships you offer and the multitude of ways God uses this partnership. God continues to use your efforts and faithfulness to advance his Kingdom and multiply his disciples! Thank you all!


"I want my son to grow up loving to serve and understanding the value of missions. To me, Shades Serve Day is one of the best places for him to learn those values."
"I like Shades Day because me and my brother get to help people together."

"Our families have been doing Shades Day together for years. First it was just the two of us with our fiances, now it's the two of us with our wives and kids! I love Shades Day because we are able to set aside time to focus on the needs of an organization that is constantly meeting the needs of so many people."
"We all met in our Sunday school class about fifteen years ago at Shades and we started volunteering at Shades Day not long after that. It's been so fun to watch our children grow up together and look forward to this day every year."

"Shades Day is cool because my mom lets me use tools I've never used before. It's also fun to help out here with my friends. My family comes every year, I think we've even been coming since before I was even born!"

"I love Shades Day! I think this is like my fifth time coming to Shades Day. It's cool because I meet so many people I didn't even know went to the same church as me. I also really like helping people and my mom says Christian Service Mission is a good place for that."

Photos and story by intern Katie Thiebaud.

Meet intern Katie Thiebaud: Why Social Workers Are Needed In The Church

Katie (right) working with United Ability
Christian Service Mission is a 501©(3) ministry that seeks to serve impoverished communities throughout greater Birmingham through their relationship with local church partners. This year at Christian Service Mission, I was given the opportunity to learn from some of the best and the brightest of the non-profit world.
            Working alongside individuals like Tracy Hipps, Rhonda Marshall, Jamie Leo, Kirsten Agee, Aaron Parsons, and so many others, has been such an incredible experience. From attending early Monday morning staff meetings to attending city-wide meetings at the Jefferson County Department of Health, I have learned a great deal about the non-profit world.
            One of the greatest take-a ways I learned during my time at CSM is the fact that social workers are incredibly needed in the church. Even as a current MSW student, this was something that I had not yet realized. Tracy explained how men, women, children, and families come to churches seeking help. While there are many people present who can love the people in need, there are few who know how to match the immediate need with the proper resources. This is where social workers become vital to the church community. Social workers contain a well of knowledge about different resources and services available to those in immediate need and they understand the importance of meeting both the spiritual and physical needs of those seeking aid.
            When I first arrived in the fall of 2018, Christian Service Mission acted as a great example of meeting both an immediate physical need, while also meeting spiritual needs through the collection and donation of hurricane relief goods. Back in August, the hurricanes destroyed homes, communities, families, and livelihood throughout Florida. CSM quickly began collecting goods and assembling teams to deliver supplies through church partners in the most greatly affected areas so that those in need also have a church connection to come back to. Among many other things, CSM has taught me a great deal of understanding the importance of the need for social workers in the church. -Katie Thiebaud, Masters of Social Work intern from Samford University, class of 2020

Women And Men In Blue

Delivering supplies to the Gulf Strike Team in Mobile

Serving those who serve our country has been an honor for CSM. In the past few years we have served the Coast Guard and their families on several occasions: in 2017 during Hurricane Harvey and during the recent government shutdown in January.  The best part of it all was the fact that my oldest son was the one whom asked if we could help. My son, Tal, has served in the U.S. Coast Guard for 12 years and has loved every minute of his service.

Golden Triangle XO and Tracy Hipps
In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey was making its way towards Houston and also in its path was Port Arthur and Beaumont. Tal and his family were living in Port Arthur serving in the Golden Triangle division of the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard evacuated the families of those serving so they could focus on search and during and after the disaster. It was a tough couple of days as the storm moved slowly, affecting thousands of people, and then a couple of weeks of recovery. The Lord moved here at CSM to get involved and we were honored to be able to send dozens of trucks to both Texas and later Florida during this season. One truck went to the Coast Guard for recovery after the storm and my son was so excited to unload and share this with those in need. It was like old times as he has aided us for years in service in the ministry.

Gulf Strike Team members unload much needed diapers donated by Bundles of Hope Diaper Bank.
Tracy with the Gulf Strike Team XO
In January, we experienced the longest government shutdown in history and it affected the Coast Guard because they are a part of Homeland Security and did not receive pay during that time. Once again Tal, who is now serving in Mobile with the Gulf Strike Team, called and shared the need of the families whose budgets had been stretched too thin. They had about 250 families who needed help. Once approved by the Coast Guard commander, I was able to drive the truck down to serve the families now 35 days into the shutdown. They were so thankful for the help and relief that many needed to make it through. That same day we were unloading, the shutdown was lifted and I was able to see these families celebrate with relief.

It has been an honor to serve the women and men and families who serve our country. In Texas, CSM was given a coin as a symbol of thanks from the Texas command. And, we also received a coin from the Gulf Strike Team. The next day was the college football Senior Bowl in Mobile and my wife, Mary Jo, and I had the pleasure of attending the game with our family and with the many Coast Guard families. It was during the game that I met the XO and she and I were able to talk about the Lord’s provision for the families serving under her. It was a great day.

-As told by Executive Director, Tracy Hipps